When attempting to navigate your way through more than 450 courts packed into downtown Spokane, the world's largest 3-on-3 street basketball tournament can feel a bit overwhelming. This year's Hoopfest (June 28-29) celebrates the event's 25th anniversary, and there are certain parts you'll want to fight through the crowds to not miss.
The whole weekend kicks off with Cami Bradley, performing in the Clock Tower meadow area of Riverfront Park (June 26, 7 pm). Local talent, check; music in the park, check. A free concert starts the weekend on a great note.
Team registration has closed, but for the spectators among the crowds, it's hard to know which team to watch. The Nike Center Court features everyone from college and local basketball legends to high-jumping slam-dunkers, while the Muscle Milk High School Elite Center Court hosts players from the region with bright futures in the game. A Hoopfest App will allow you to track your favorite teams and check their schedules.
The finals of the Toyota Shootoff (June 29, 3:30 pm) will conclude multiple qualifying rounds that begin Thursday, June 26. One incredibly lucky shooter will walk away with a 2014 Toyota Tacoma, and the rest of us will watch in envy before going off to start practicing our half-court shots for next year.
More information and volunteer registration at spokanehoopfest.net. (JENNA MULLIGAN)
The boys are back. This May brought about the return of the Spokane Shadow to semi-pro men's soccer for the first time since 2005. Navy blue jerseys, whistles and penalty kicks are taking over the field at Spokane Falls Community College, where the team plays its home matches.
The original Spokane Shadow played from 1996-2005 as part of the United Soccer Leagues; the team has joined the Washington-based Evergreen Premier League for its 2014 season.
The league is new, the team is fresh, and the excitement is mounting for the Shadow, who operated as a community soccer club and youth program for the past several years.
You can catch local university players such as Nick Hamer and Graison Le (Gonzaga University) both on the field and often for an autograph on your jersey following the match. Tickets are $4 for youth and $6 for adults for weekend games on June 21 and July 6, 19 and 20, and families are encouraged to tailgate in the hours prior to the game.
You know what that means. Grab your burger patties and watermelons, streak those cheeks with blue and white face paint, and go celebrate the return of Spokane's own elite-level team. (JM)
KING OF THE CAGE
With all the relaxing by the lake and grilling on the porch this summer, you might be too laid-back by the end of the season. If you need some adrenaline, you can get it in bunches at Coeur d'Alene Casino when King of the Cage, the touring mixed martial arts series, comes to town on Thursday, Aug. 14. These fights feature young, hungry fighters looking to punch, kick and chokehold their way into the upper echelon of cage fighting. When you get out to Worley, you might as well make a night of it. Get a room and have a pre-fight dinner at Chinook, CdA Casino's excellent restaurant. For tickets and more info visit cdacasino.com. (MIKE BOOKEY)
WATCHING THE IRONMEN
Did you forget to train for the Coeur d'Alene Ironman? That's OK; you can still get in on the outdoor fun. If you're hankering for some exercise, why not bike to Coeur d'Alene on June 29? Biking there will save you the hassle of trying to find parking. If you're coming from Spokane, hop on the Centennial Trail starting at Riverfront Park. It's a bit over 30 miles each way. The official race start time is 6:35 am for the age-group athletes. Whether you bike or drive, get down to Sherman Avenue, a perfect place to watch all the action. It's close to City Park, one of the best spots to watch the swim. You can see the bike and the run easily from downtown, too. (ELI FRANCOVICH)
When you head over to Avista Field this summer, of course you'll want to watch baseball. The Spokane Indians fill the ballpark with seed-spitting, foul-ball-chasing lovers of the game.
But with a summer schedule packed with extras from fireworks to live music to your very own free magnet schedule (who doesn't love free goodies?), baseball is hardly all you'll be getting at the games.
The season opens on June 13 as the Indians take on the Eugene Emeralds, followed by the first of eight fireworks shows that will erupt behind center field this season.
Various nights will bring about jersey auctions, baseball hat giveaways, and the postgame Coors Light Concert Series, including performances from the Kelly Hughes Band. Be sure to catch one of the Yoke's $1 Family Feast Nights scheduled for June 14, July 5, Aug. 1, and Aug. 16. With all that action, there will hardly be time to get bored during the seventh-inning stretch.
Ticket packages are on sale, and you can call to reserve your seats (343-6886). The full season schedule can be found at spokaneindiansbaseball.com. (JM)
HOST A BACKYARD SPORTS LEAGUE
Summer is a time for relaxation and maybe for hosting a party or two. With beer and BBQs and the end of the NBA Finals, pump people up by hosting your very own tournaments. Throughout the summer, pick a night each week and have a BBQ-sport night. Maybe organize a summer-long croquet tournament where the loser has to buy next week's six-pack. Of course, you're not limited to croquet. Try bocce, horseshoes, badminton or volleyball. Making sure there's a combination of spectators and competitors is a good way to increase the excitement. (ERIC GAVELIN)
Beer, hot dogs, air conditioning. Spokane Arena is calling. The Spokane Shock have been playing since March, but you've still got time to see them, with three more regular-season home games. There's even an alcohol-free family section for each game. The Shock take on San Antonio on June 20 (Kid's Night, with free posters), Arizona on July 12 (Hometown Heroes Night, with free banners) and Tampa Bay on July 21 (Fan Appreciation Game, with free posters and flags and $1 hot dogs). Tickets start at $14. Visit spokaneshock.com or call 242-7462. (HEIDI GROOVER) ♦